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All quiet on the Tibetan front -

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All quiet on the Tibetan front

The World Today - Wednesday, 11 March , 2009 12:49:00

Reporter: Stephen McDonell

ELEANOR HALL: It has generated a massive military and police presence on the Tibetan plateau but so
far the 50th anniversary of the failed uprising in Tibet has not been marked by any violent
conflicts.

There has, though, been a vitriolic war of words between the Chinese Government and the Dalai Lama.

The Tibetan spiritual leader said his homeland has become a "hell on earth". The Chinese Government
responded that he's a liar up to his old tricks.

China correspondent Stephen McDonell reports.

STEPHEN MCDONNEL: The Dalai Lama said that the last five decades of Chinese rule had brought
Tibetan religion, culture, language and identity close to extinction. Though he didn't regret
fleeing into exile, he said subsequent waves of Chinese crackdowns in his old homeland had killed
hundreds of thousands of people.

At a press conference in Beijing last night, China's Government spokesman Ma Zhaoxu launched his
own verbal attack.

(Ma Zhaoxu speaks)

MA ZHAOXU (translated): I won't respond to the Dalai Lama's lies and his remarks confusing right
and wrong.

I want to point out that the democratic reform of Tibet has been a significant milestone in the
abolition of international slavery. It's also been a significant step in the promotion of
international human rights.

STEPHEN MCDONELL: In all successful peace negotiations, warring sides have found a way to talk to
their enemies without pre-conditions. I asked if this was likely to happen with the Chinese
Government and the Dalai Lama's representatives.

MA ZHAOXU (translated): The door to contact and talks is always open. The key problem is that the
Dalai clique stubbornly insists on the stance of separatism.

STEPHEN MCDONELL: As the questions kept coming about Tibet, Ma seemed less willing to answer them.

I asked why troop numbers had been bolstered along the border with India and Nepal and if there'd
been any reports of pro-independence agitators trying to sneak into Tibet to cause trouble.

(Sound of Ma Zhaoxu speaking)

MA ZHAOXU (translated): Strictly speaking, it isn't me who should answer your question as a Foreign
Ministry spokesperson. But as a friend, I suggest that you should check the news stories on Tibet
done by China's radio, television and newspapers.

STEPHEN MCDONELL: He said he hoped that foreign reporters would visit the Chinese Government
exhibition on Tibetan liberation to learn a thing or two about the real situation there.

This is Stephen McDonell in Beijing for The World Today.